After seven (short) years I find myself traveling for work / business frequently enough to earn status with airlines and hotels. Business travels is really different than before but I think it’s due to the pandemic.
Here is what I’ve noticed is different:
- Red eyes on Monday morning and Friday evening flights are a mix of men, women, and children. Not just business men.
- Airports aren’t that busy.
- Far fewer business travelers – it seems.
- Flying during the pandemic before the vaccine was the most amazing experience ever.
Some further explanations:
Airports used to be filled with dudes flying for work. It sucked. These dudes had their logo wear, their status, and were impatient as hell. They had no qualms about cutting in line or being dicks, in general. I think it’s because they knew they’d never see the people around them ever again. It sucked. It was especially bad on early morning and late evening flights. Now, it’s a diverse mix of individuals. I’m sitting here at MSP at 5:35AM and I see leisure travelers, families with very small children, lots of women business travelers, and only a handful of dudes in their logo wear like me.
In the past I seem to remember like 78-85% dudes tutting about in their logo wear. And for the remaining individuals, it seemed like travel was so new they forgot how to human – they’d stand in a aisles, stand at the end of escalators, block exits and generally look like a deer in headlights. It sucked. Looking around it seems like logo wearing business traveler dudes like me are maybe 30% of the crowd?
Airports aren’t too bad now. Sure, there are some bad times but the waiting and the general sea of people seems to be diminished a bit. It’s not great but it’s also not horrible like I remember.
Lastly, it appears as though flying during the pandemic is going to be one of the most memorable experiences ever. No one was at the airports, planes were empty (empty middle aisle!!), nothing was open at the airport, every rental car was available, it was stupid cheap to fly – I bought a round trip ticket to Denver from MSP for $49, and it was quiet. It was amazing. I didn’t mind the mask mandates and the strictness. Had the pandemic been worse for someone like me I’m pretty sure I’d be hanging out at the airport since it was the only place people took the prevention steps seriously – airlines handing out lifetime bans is quite the incentive to behave.
What about the similarities? The only thing I can tell that is similar is the line at any place serving coffee. Easily 20-40 people waiting at caribou, Starbucks, etc., in the early morning. Makes sense, we are only human :).
I put some photos I like from my flights over the last handful of years. I don’t mind this business travel stuff so much, certainly nowhere near my dislike I had for it seven years ago. It’s kinda fun now; instead of work travel being a 2/10 it’s closer to a 6/10 for me.